Sunday, February 20, 2011

Julian Barnes is A Bright Guy

I bought Nothing To Be Frightened Of based on a memory of it garnering good reviews. Julian Barnes has made me laugh and shudder and I've only read the part of his book. He has a masterful way with words and with people in his writing; connecting dots and shuffling things in a way you wouldn't think of in a million years. Early on he tells two anecdotes about conversations with his brother. His brother remembers life differently than Julian does and has a way of implying that his version is the reality. Julian sums up the stories with this comment: "You perhaps can tell from these exchanges that he is the elder brother." It's not easy to make me cough out a hearty, knowing, loud chuckle.

"The Pascalian bet seems simple enough. If you believe, and G-d turns out to exist, you win. If you believe, and G-d turns out not to exist, you lose, but not half as badly as you would if you chose not to believe, only to find out after death that G-d does exist.

Here's another piece from the book that percolated my thoughts:

It is, perhaps, not so much an argument as a piece of self-interested position-taking worthy of the French diplomatic corps; though the primary wager, on G-d's existence, does depend on a second and simultaneous nature, on G-d's nature. What if G-d is not as imagined? What, for instance, if he disapproves of gamblers, especially those whose purported belief in Him is dependent on some acorn-beneath-the-cup mentality? And who decides who wins? Not us: G-d might prefer the honest doubter to the sycophantic chancer." - Nothing To Be Frightened Of, Julian Barnes, pg. 20


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